I have always been a huge fan of Resident Evil. That series is something I grew up playing and will always be near and dear to my heart. I know a lot about the story and characters, and when I heard Operation Raccoon City would give a different perspective of what happened in Resident Evil 2, I was excited. Although the game has some problems, it still does a good job giving Resident Evil fans something to take a second look at.
For those of you who don’t know, Resident Evil is about a company called Umbrella, an arms manufacturer that specializes in biological weapons. They developed a special virus that, when administered, can kill people within hours and turn them into flesh eating zombies. They also experiment with other creatures called BOWs or Bio-Organic Weapons. These creatures are a variety of vicious monsters that not only kill, but infect whatever they attack. Well, everything was going well for Umbrella until the virus was released on the population of Raccoon City. Enter our “heroes” of the game. Umbrella has sent in a team to cover up, destroy evidence, and kill any and all survivors that could trace this incident back to the Umbrella Corporation.
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The game is a squad-based third person shooter that has the player or players choosing one of the Umbrella operatives and completing missions given out by the corporate higher ups. There are 6 characters to play, each with their own abilities. Think of them much like classes. There’s the medic, the demolition expert, the scientist, the stealth recon, the leader and a marksman. Your play style should guide your choice of character.
Each character has 3 unique abilities they can use. You’re only allowed to bring one of those abilities into the mission with you, but each serve a purpose. Depending on the class, it may be a stat boosting skill, a better attack or a squad support ability. In addition, each character has two passive abilities that are always on. Both the active and passive abilities can be upgraded using experience points you gain in missions and multiplayer.
The game features multiple missions that can be played both alone or co-op with people online. Here, you go through, learning the back-story to Resident Evil 2. During game play, there are multiple things to keep track of. Obviously, you have enemies, zombies and monsters to kill. When hit by many attacks, you sometimes will begin to bleed. When this happens, zombies will run straight for you. You will have to hold them off until the bleeding stops. If you’re attacked by infected enemies, you can become infected yourself. When this happens, you have a timer that is slowly draining your health. If your health depletes to zero, you die and come back as a zombie and will begin attacking your teammates. Luckily, you can kill a teammate and revive them back to life without a hitch. Yes, I can be a zombie, get killed by my teammates, and then be revived without a problem. Not very realistic, but it will do. The standard Resident Evil pick-ups are here, as well. Green herbs will refill some of your health, and first aid sprays will not only heal a large amount of health, but will also heal surrounding allies. If you become infected, there is an anti-viral spray you can use to cure yourself. There are multiple grenades to pick up and use, also.
The game is designed around cooperative play. The single player is a bit bothersome due to the squad AI. Your computer-controlled teammates are downright stupid at times. They will walk into fire, get stuck on the environments and ignore you when you need help the most. The problem is, if you die in single player, the game is over and you start back at the last checkpoint. In co-op play, when you die, you can be revived by a partner.
At the end of each level, you are graded on your performance. This will determine how much experience you gain. In between missions, you can upgrade your classes’ abilities and purchase better starting weapons. The game has you upgrading each class separately, so there is a form of replayability to it.
The game also features competitive multiplayer. This is where the game doesn’t settle too well with me. There are 4 different modes to play in versus mode: Team Attack, Biohazard, Survivors and Heroes modes. In Team Attack, you play with squad mates trying to get the most kills to win. It’s like a team death match, but with more things to kill. Everything gives you points. In Biohazard, each team is trying to secure samples of the virus. Think of it like a capture the flag game. Survivors mode has the two teams competing to stop the other while a counter winds down. Once it expires, the team that is at the extraction point escapes and wins. Finally, Heroes mode pits iconic characters such as Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield against the Umbrella corp. In this mode, there are no respawns. You have to play it safe.
The competitive multiplayer would not be so bad if it didn’t boil down to a free for all. Granted, that is more the players’ faults more than the game’s, but every match I got into was played like a team deathmatch. The players have so much health that sometimes it feels too unnatural to take down opponents. The matchmaking is off by a good amount as well. My squad consisted of level 15 players, and the game matched us up with level 90 players. It got tiresome very quickly. Still, even in the competitive play, having to watch for other players as well as having a giant tyrant trying to kill you is pretty hectic and fun.
The game just has some technical problems that are pretty glaring. If you begin playing your single player on an easy difficulty and decide to bump up the difficulty to normal, you have to start the story mode over. You can’t continue through the story where you left off. The mechanics aren’t well explained in the game either. I had to just figure out a lot of useful mechanics myself. And the biggest complaint I have with the game is the melee attacks. You can melee an enemy or, with certain enemies, perform a finisher after a melee attack. That’s all well and good, but if you were to get caught in a melee attack by an enemy, the hit stun is so bad that you can almost never recover. This is especially bothersome in versus modes. Getting hit with a melee attack is often a death sentence.
The game has some problems. Playing cooperatively with your friends is sometimes a must. The story mode is enjoyable and will last you at least 6-7 hours. There are multiple difficulties and many upgrades and weapons to unlock that will take more than one play through. When played right, and with an open mind, some of the competitive multiplayer is fun. Of course, you’re going to run into those guys that just go at it with no method whatsoever. I have to give the game some respect for keeping up with the Resident Evil universe. It does a nice job putting you back in the zombie infested streets of Raccoon City, and it offers up some decent co-op action for those with the patience to persevere. It may have it faults, but I still think Resident Evil fans as well as co-op shooter fans will still get some enjoyment out of Operation Raccoon City.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.